TURKEY’S spy chief has assured the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a secret meeting last week that the state will press ahead with the peace process to end 30 years of conflict, the Turkish media has reported.
The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met on Friday with PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan on his island prison, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said.
The meeting came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the August 10 presidential election. It was aimed at ending any uncertainty over the fate of peace process between Turkey and Kurdish militants under his presidency, reports said.
What made Fidan’s visit ‘exceptional’ was the fact that it came just after the election, recalling that Fidan had met with Ocalan on a few occasions over the last 18 months. It begged the question ‘will Erdogan continue the peace process when he takes the presidency?’
The visit to Ocalan was aimed at passing on the message that Erdogan will be a key follower of the (peace) process while in office as president, and that the peace process will continue ‘independent of individuals’.
Turkish media reported that ‘Ocalan has been clearly assured that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is widely expected to become prime minister while Fidan is favourite to become foreign minister’.
Ocalan said on Saturday the long-running insurgency that has cost at least 40,000 lives was ‘coming to an end,’ hailing the start of a new ‘democratic process’ in Turkey after the election.
Erdogan’s government has sought to ease tensions with the Kurdish community through a series of reforms including Kurdish broadcasts on state-run TRT television, as well as the use of Kurdish language in private schools.
Ankara launched peace talks in 2012 with the PKK which waged a war on Turkish authorities in 1984 for self-rule but they stalled in September when the rebels accused the government of failing to deliver on reform.
• Meanwhile in Iran, the Deputy Foreign Minister hassaid that Tehran has no military presence in Baghdad, nor in Samarra, nor Kurdish region of Iraq.
Iran is providing advice to Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.
‘We have given help with policy and advice to the Iraq government. We have acted in the same manner to Iraqi Kurdistan,’ Amir-Abdollahi said.
Tehran has no military presence in Baghdad, nor in the Shiite shrine city of Samarra to its north nor the Kurdish region of Iraq, he added.
‘We have not sent weapons either, but we have given advice and shared our experiences,’ Amir-Abdollahian said.
Foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham said talks were also under way with some European countries.
‘Iran has begun discussions with European countries about the danger from terrorism and takfiris (extremists) and the increase in their activities,’ Afkham said in reply to a question about British Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement on cooperation with Iran against Islamic State (IS).
Amir-Abdollahian accused the United States of doing nothing’ to counter jihadist groups in neighbouring Syria, while Washington ‘monitors the tiniest Iranian petrodollar through the international banking system’.
These groups ‘sell and buy weapons in Syria and with the help of certain countries in the region. . . sell between $3 and $7 million of petrol every day,’ the deputy minister alleged.
IS allies have overrun large chunks of Iraq and Syria, and have declared a cross-border caliphate – a successor state to historic Muslim empires.
Iran, majority Shiite like its neighbour Iraq, was the main supporter of divisive former Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki before the turmoil led it to distance itself from him.
It has welcomed the appointment of Maliki’s successor, Haidar al-Abadi, and has called on all Iraqi parties to unite against the IS offensive.
• Reporters Without Borders, said it is appalled by Wednesday’s release of a video that purportedly shows kidnapped US journalist James Foley being beheaded by the Jihadi armed group known as Islamic State or ISIS.
‘If the authenticity of this video claiming responsibility for James Foley’s murder is confirmed, Islamic State would seem to be pushing its brutal treatment of hostages to the extreme,’ secretary-general Christopher Deloire said on behalf of the the Paris-based media freedom organisation RSF (Reporters Sans Frontieres /Reporters Without Borders).
A masked man dressed in black is seen in the video cutting the throat of a man wearing the same kind of orange jumpsuit as detainees in Guantanamo.
The man in black said Foley was being executed in revenge for the recent US air strikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq.
The White House said the US intelligence agencies were trying to verify the video’s authenticity as quickly as possible.
In the same video, Islamic State threatens to execute US journalist Steven Sotloff, who was abducted in Syria in August 2013, if President Obama does not end the US air strikes in Iraq.
Deloire continued: ‘Foley did not work for the US government. He was an experienced international reporter whose sole interest was to report the news, not represent his nation.
‘We express our heartfelt condolences to his family, his mother, his father, who we know, and his friends. And we pay tribute to a man who helped us to provide support to the family of one of his friends, a photographer killed in Libya.’
A veteran reporter, Foley, 40, was kidnapped near the town of Taftanaz, in northern Syria, on 22 November 2012.
He covered the conflict in Libya in 2011 before going to Syria to cover the uprising against the Assad regime for the US news site GlobalPost, the French news agency AFP and other media.
His is the first execution of a foreign journalist to be claimed by Islamic State, which has killed Syrian citizen-journalists in recent months.
In a January 2013 interview, Foley’s mother Diane said her son was ‘passionate about covering the story in Syria, passionate about the people there’.
In a Facebook message to supporters late yesterday, she wrote: ‘He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.’
It is on record that the United Kingdom and the United States have been supporting the military campaign to replace President Assad, on which all these reactionary and terrorist gangs have played a major part.
James Foley, was working in an area ‘liberated’ by anti-Assad forces when he was taken, then subsequently passed on to the Islamic State.
Armed groups are currently holding around 20 Syrian professional and non-professional journalists. Three foreign journalists are still being held hostage in Syria, while four others are missing there.
A total of 39 professional journalists (12 of them foreigners) have been killed in connection with their work in Syria since the start of the conflict in March 2011, and 122 Syrian citizen-journalists have been killed.